Today in History:

49 Series I Volume III- Serial 3 - Wilson's Creek


The advance guard was composed of Totten's battery and my battalion of four companies. About 9 o'clock in the morning a scouting party of the enemy's cavalry was discovered a hundred yards in advance on the road. Two companies of my battalion were deployed as skirmishers, one on either side of the road, to act as flankers through the bushes. A shell from Totten's battery dispersed the enemy, and we saw nothing of him for several miles, when some shots were fired at our cavalry flankers two or three hundred yard on the left of the road. Two companies of my battalion were again sent out as flankers, one on each side of the road.

After advancing about a mile and a half, the enemy's cavalry, in considerable force, was discovered crossing and recrossing the road in front, where it ascended a hill, and was lost from our view in a dense forest. The road passed through a narrow valley, and on the left was a succession of spurs, sparsely covered with scrubby oak, and running perpendicularly to it, up to about a mile from the enemy's position. Along the ridge of the last spur was Company E, Second Infantry, deployed as skirmishers, under command of First Serget. G. H. McLaughlin. On the next spur, in rear of this position, was Lieutenant Lothrop, with his company of general-service recruits, acting as a reserve. On the right of the road the company of Mounted Rifle recruits, under Lance-Sergeant Morine, was deployed to skirmish thorough a corn field, and Company B, Second Infantry, commanded by First Sergeant Griffin, acting as a reserve. Captain D. S. Staneoy's troop of cavalry was a short distance in rear, on the right of the road.

General Lyon left me with this force, and drew off the remainder of the command a mile and a half to the rear, in order ot encamp near water. I was directed to hold this position unless too hotly pressed by the enemy, when I was to retire, holding him in check. From our position the valley sloped towards that of the enemy up to the foot of the hill, where it turned off to their right. From behind the hills, on our left, was a deep ravine, running towards the enemy's position. The bed of a dry stream ran along to the left of the road, and in places was deep, and skirted with tall, thick brush-wood. On the right of the road (the enemy's left) was a deep ravine, running perpendicularly to the road. In a country of such conformation it was impossible for us to form any estimate of the enemy's strength. Two small field pieces were in position on the slope of the hill on either side of the road. For several hours they took advantage of their hiding places to annoy us with random shots, none of which took effect.

About 5 o'clock p. m. Sergeant McLaughlin's line of skirmishers was attacked on the left and front by a large body of cavalry, some 200 or more of whom were on foot and about the same number mounted. At the same time the enemy was seen advancing upon us along the road in column, with two pieces of artillery. Sergeant McLaughlin gallantly repulsed the first attack, but was soon overwhelmed with numbers and obliged to retreat upon the reserve, and all fell back into the road, where I came to their support with the other two companies of my battalion. We then advanced upon the enemy, driving him rapidly back. Captain Stanely, with his troop, took position on a commanding spur on our left and front, to prevent our flank from being turned.

The enemy was now in complete rout, a part of Captain Stanley's troop having gallantly charged and cut though his line. While we were pursuing the enemy, who had fled, leaving over 200 cavalry horses